Kelowna does its part to alleviate tragedy in Nepal

“The worst in terms of the shakes are behind us, but the troubles there will only get worse...parts of Nepal are a tough place to live

As the world around her shook and crumbled, instantly shattering everyday life for the Nepalese, Kelowna’s Haley Hopp prayed and held on for dear life.

In an open blog post she titled, ‘the longest 48 hours,’ the teen wrote about the harrowing moments following the massive quake that thus far has claimed 5,000 lives and left an estimated eight million more homeless in the Himalayan nation.

“The ground continued trembling, it was the longest 52 seconds of my life. I grasped onto Grace, I didn’t want to die alone. All I could begin to let out of my mouth was the name of Jesus. My life literally flashed before my eyes. So I closed them and hoped that the building wouldn’t fall to the ground,” she wrote.

Nepali women screamed, shrieks of horror.

“I looked at faces and they held so much fear. Prayers arose all over the church and finally the rumbling came to a halt. “

People ran for the door, wrote Hopp, noting she could hardly stand up as her legs were numbed and she was in shock.

“The earth quieted and everything began in slow motion. I finally reached the door and grabbed my shoes as I ran down the stairs for solid ground, whatever that was anymore,” she said.

Aftershocks are said to have subsided in Nepal, but what remains is, by all accounts, chaos.

Bodies are continually being pulled from the rubble and many have been left homeless.

As tent cities are erected, concerns that disease will soon set in are coming to the fore.

Getting supplies to and from the most deeply damaged areas is also difficult, according to international reports, and its hampering aid.

Conditions will only get more dire predicts Kelowna resident Kevin Edgecombe, who has been to the Himalayan country a number of times with the Inter-Cultural Women’s Educational Network, a registered non-profit charity for which he is the president.

“The worst in terms of the shakes are behind us, but the troubles there will only get worse. In the best of times, parts of Nepal are a tough place to live,” Edgecombe said, noting that, among other things, the air quality is brutal.

“In the outlying areas, it’s like stepping back 150 years.”

Its poverty and relative primitiveness, have caught the attention of numerous non governmental organizations, he said, which may be helpful in the days ahead as they are already on the ground.

“However, the infrastructure is dramatically less than it would be in other countries and the basic equipment needed to even pick up debris hard to find,” Edgecombe said.

“Infrastructure is antiquated or non-existent…so you can imagine when the earth shakes, there will be issues with utility, big concerns about sanitation.

“Just getting quality drinking water is challenging.”

With that in mind, the goals he had originally set out for his May 16 trip for Nepal have been cast aside, as he scrambles to figure out how to best plug in to the support system forming around the suffering country.

“We were planning on doing a construction in western Nepal, in an area called Dang, where we built a women’s vocational centre last year,” he said.

“We were planning on going to do finishing touches on that building and now we don’t know what we will be doing, as the logistics are challenging. We’re hoping to lend a hand wherever we can, when we get there.”

When he and 19 other volunteers touch down in Kathmandu, they may just be involved with basic distribution of water, clean up work or setting up tents, he said.

All he’s sure of, is that he wants to help, as he knows the people, the country and the heartbreaking challenges they’re facing.

“All of our direct contacts and friends of IWEN have been accounted for, but there’s just a tremendous amount of need across the country,” he said, adding he thinks what’s known now of damage is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

While there are a couple of weeks left until Edgecombe and the rest of the IWEN team are in Nepal, he’s already getting to work trying to drum up funds, with a bottle-drive planned for the weekend.

Through IWEN, Edgecombe hopes to raise funds that will go 100 per cent to aid and relief in Nepal. This Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers will hold the bottle drive at Western Star Trucks for earthquake relief.

Edgecombe also will offer regular updates on fundraising and on the ground relief efforts through his Facebook page facebook.com/IWENCanada and IWENCanada.com.

IWEN is not the only Kelowna-based organization pitching in to help.

Hope for the Nations (HOPE) established their first home in Kathmandu more than 20 years ago, and today has developed a network of close friends, partnerships, and projects throughout the city and surrounding area.

Their fear is, once all the cameras leave, and the news stops reporting, the region will still need assistance to rebuild and recover.

“HOPE plans to assist in two phases—first to provide for basic needs by helping to gather food and water and, secondly, to assist in the rebuilding of this beautiful country” said program director Patricia Phillips.

“Right now, HOPE is responding to the disaster by raising funds to send to our partners to mobilize relief to their communities.”

For those who would like to help, you can donate here: www.hopeforthenations.com/helpnepal.

To read Hopp’s full blog entry, go to https://haleyandworld.wordpress.com/.

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